Special Report: Israel Attacks Gaza-Bound Flotilla; World Responds

Amanda Anderson, Media Consortium blogger

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By Amanda Anderson, Media Consortium blogger At approximately 4:00 a.m. Monday morning, the Freedom Flotilla, an international aid convoy headed for the Gaza strip, was attacked in international waters about 40 miles off the coast of Gaza by Israeli commandos. The convoy consisted of six ships with almost 700 international humanitarian activists on board. The commandos landed on the flotilla's lead ship, the Turkish Mavi Marmara. As Gershom Gorenberg states in the American Prospect, "Activists who were on board say the Israeli commandos fired before being attacked; the Israeli military says the soldiers were defending themselves from a mob." Either way, at least 9 people have been killed. Esther Kaplan takes a look at the mainstream media's coverage of the event, and it isn't pretty. "In some cases, we saw misinformation and an almost gleeful boosterism," Kaplan writes. Was this really an act of nonviolence? Were those aboard the Freedom Flotilla trying to enforce a negative public opinion of Israelis? Or were they just trying to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip? Going back to the Prospect: "Before and after the raid, Israeli officials referred to the flotilla as a 'provocation' intended to harm Israel. That's probably true -- and only raises the question of why Israel allowed itself to be provoked." The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild thinks otherwise. He states; "With this assault, Israel may finally have lost any hope of finding its moral compass or restoring its reputation. The invasion of Gaza seventeen months ago was a war crime. The embargo of Gaza is [also] a war crime—an act of collective punishment causing astronomical levels of poverty, malnutrition, and joblessness." While sifting through all the accounts of the Flotilla attack, it's important to remember that we are only getting one perspective. But, as prisoners are slowly released, their testimonies reveal the other side of the story. As Seth Freed Wessler writes in RaceWire, "Those who have been released describe horrific treatment, and say that shots were fired from Israeli helicopters even before soldiers boarded the ships." For more information on the attack, visit the following links: Response in Israel to aid ship attack in The Real News Network Israeli Forces Attack Boats Bearing Aid to Gaza in Care2 The world responds Could the Flotilla incident be the last straw for relations between Israel and Turkey? According to Talking Points Memo, that could just be the case: "Separate from everything to do with what happened in the water off Gaza yesterday, the implications for Israel's relationship with Turkey seem profound and perhaps irremediable… This isn't the first blow up in Israel-Turkey relations. Turkish opposition to the Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead) has been at the center of the dispute going back to 2008." The Southern blockade of the Gaza strip, which is maintained by Egypt and not Israel, was opened in response to the Flotilla incident, and new reports show that this section of the border may stay that way. Also from Talking Points Memo, "An Egyptian security source told Reuters: 'Egypt opened its border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to allow humanitarian and medical aid to enter the Strip. The border will remain open for an unlimited time,' the source said, letting Palestinians enter and leave Egypt." In the United States, a group of Nobel Peace Price winners joined together to condemn the attack, calling Israel’s three-year blockade of Gaza illegal under international law and “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations.” President Barack Obama's signature was conspicuously absent from this document. According to AlterNet, "President Obama is a constitutional lawyer. He must understand that the blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law. So is attacking civilian boats in international waters. The Israeli government must be held accountable for its actions. Global leaders, including its most revered members such as Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, have come out on the side of justice and law. So must President Obama." For more information on the international responses to this incident, visit the following links: Democracy Now! details the call to lift the blockade of the Gaza strip UN Security Council, Short of Resolution, Condemns Israel in Inter Press Service What will happen next? Will such widespread disapproval of Israel's action lead to the end of the blockade? Maybe this event will change relations between the U.S. and Israel. The Minnesota Independent reports that Teachers Against Occupation (TAO) released a statement saying, "Israel’s criminal actions cannot be permitted to continue. The United States directly supports Israeli atrocities with billions of dollars of military and economic aid every year. All of our Senators and Congressional representatives have supported this aid. This must stop. We call for an immediate end to U.S. ties to Israel." This post is a special report on Haiti and features links to the best independent, progressive reporting by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. For more updates, follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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